by Paul Bowers
"It couldn't have been handled any more perfectly by my employees," says owner Harrison Edelson. He says a bartender first noticed that smoke was coming from the office, where the restaurant's clothes dryer is located, and notified his manager. Employees evacuated the customers from the building, and no one was hurt.
According to a press release from Charleston Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh, the Fire Department was dispatched to 428 King St. at 11:58 p.m., and a fire engine arrived at the scene in less than three minutes. Firefighters put the fire out quickly, and the smoke damage was mostly confined to the office. They conducted an investigation, and Julazadeh says the fire was determined to have started in the clothes dryer, which was being used to dry some cleaning rags. Julazadeh used the press release as an opportunity to issue some general safety tips:
• Never leave a clothes dryer (or similar heat-producing equipment) running unattended.
• Maintain, service, and clean dryers on a regular basis to reduce fire hazards through lint accumulation.
• Rags, towels, or other cloth materials that may have been used to clean oils (found in some paints and varnishes, vegetable oils, and similar) should be thoroughly cleaned before they are dried. Some of these oils will undergo spontaneous heating after the dryer stops and have been known to cause fires up to several hours after the dryer cycle ends.
Edelson says he had already planned to close the store during the day today for some cleaning and renovation, so "we're not caught completely off guard." He says the restaurant is gearing up for the weekend of the Cooper River Bridge Run (April 5-7), which is usually Joe Pasta's biggest sales weekend of the year.